Recognizing the discrimination inherent in outlawing women's nipples, District Judge R. Brooke Jackson has struck down an ordinance that banned women from showing their breasts in public in the state of Colorado.
"The naked female breast is seen as disorderly or dangerous because society, from Renaissance paintings to Victoria’s Secret commercials, has conflated female breasts with genitalia and stereotyped them as such ... [The law] perpetuates a stereotype engrained in our society that female breasts are primarily objects of sexual desire whereas male breasts are not," Jackson wrote in a decision that he sees as likely to suceed as a permanent injunction, according to USA Today.
Arugments against Brooke's decision cited public order and safety issues, including the safety of children. Testimony from Fort Collins Police Services assistant chief Jerry Schiager intimated that topless women cause traffic accidents, which was characterized by Jackson as "little more than speculation." Jackson pressed for "meaningful" evidence to back up the claims made by police.
"While the judge has acknowledged the other cases upholding similar laws, he concluded he is likely to find the city’s restriction on female toplessness in public is based on an impermissible gender stereotype that results in a form of gender-based discrimination," wrote City attorney Carrie Daggett, who said that cops would no longer cite women for exposing their nipples. "The city is reviewing the judge's decision in this case and city legal, policy and enforcement staff will be considering the city’s options for next steps in light of the order."
The oridinance had made it this far in the system with the help of Free The Nipple organizers in the state, and while many recognize that this issue is not as critical as voting rights or other social justice causes, the ruling is still being considered a victory.
"It’s a huge relief," said plaintiff Brit Hoagland. "It is definitely a big win."
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